Tuesday, December 18, 2012

People Eat Tasty Animals

That's what Peta stands for, according to a post I saw on FB.
What I'm about to suggest is radical, and might not be welcome. (There now, you've been warned)
Shade of green: eat less meat.

Before you begin pelting me with meatballs and choking me with links of sausage, know that I too love meat.
Not enough to eat it everyday (except during Lent when my body goes into protein-craving overdrive), but enough to relish the prospect of a good steak with mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce. Or chorico pao. Or cutlet bread. Slurp.

The unfortunate fact is that most meat today comes from industrial farms. Bad for the animals.
Grain-fed creatures produce more methane than those that are grass-fed. Bad for the planet.
And our meat is generally pumped with steroids, antibiotics, etc, etc. Bad for us.
But you already knew all of this. So what now?
I suggest you be flexitarian, i.e. primarily vegetarian, but occasionally eating fish, poultry and meat. As our ancestors once did.

And if this post has you down, check out The Spoon from Outer Space, guaranteed to amuse you and tempt you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


sweet potato growing in a corner of my hall

Shade of green: Grow (some of ) your own food if you can.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Show up and support

Even labours of love need recognition. Few parents ask for thankyous, but that doesn't mean they don't want your thanks. Volunteers help those affected by natural disasters out of the goodness of their hearts, and are gratified when the people they've helped show their appreciation.
Greenpeople is definitely a labour of love. When my blogviews FINALLY crossed 1000, I felt vindicated. It's true that I do this for myself. It makes me happy. And seeing that people in other parts of the world do want to hear what I have to say is a pretty darn awesome feeling too!
This week's shade of green: Show some support. Goumbook is organizing an event today and tomorrow at Dubai Marina Mall: Future Green 2012. I'm definitely heading there to see what Organic Foods and Cafe has to offer, to check out Averda's ReVa (where I come from the Reva is an electric car), to take a dekko at what the EWS-WWF are up to.
My sister and I took advantage of one of the recent long weekends to check out The Change Initiative. She bought chips, lip gloss and a card, just to show her support. There were lots of other things there too, like clothes and toys and food and this LED tablet that reminded me of a neon pink writing slate I had as a kid.
Of course you are welcome to show your support for other positive work, like the awesome people at GOACAN, who help people in Goa fight for their civic and consumer rights.
This weekend is Thanksgiving, right? Count your blessings, sure. And be one too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I can see a light.

symbol, lamp, cartoon, light
Bright ideas? If it's incandescent, maybe not.
Happy Diwali!
It's the Festival of Lights today, a metaphor for chasing away darkness and evil and welcoming goodness and light. (Though sometimes, as with Earth Hour, you shut off the lights as a symbol of superior knowledge- the knowledge that you are saving the world, plunging yourself into darkness because you CAN.)

So what say we commit to saving the world from evil? How about this Deepawali we commit to energy-efficient lighting? And that's today's shade.

LED lighting  is supposed to be the next big thing in lights (heck, where I come from CFL's are the big thing. But as everyone in the developed world knows, CFL bulbs contain haz chems that LED's apparently don't. Time for  a change?)

Be careful around fireworks!

Image: nemo via pixabay

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's in a package?

There's a joke in our family that every year, before the monsoons hit, Mum puts layer over layer over layer of tarpaulin or whatever to weatherproof our house. And then she puts one more for good measure.

It's kinda funny, but maybe that's just because I get the inside joke.

You know what's not funny? Layer upon layer upon layer of packaging.Yes, I know your cereal can't be put directly into a cardboard box. If they were, the crispy flakes of corn would be soft within days, especially in areas with high humidity.
But do cookies really need a tray? Are they so fragile that they cannot endure being transported in just the outer packaging? I don't think so either.

In the end, all that packaging has to go somewhere. Less packaging= less rubbish to worry about/recycle/dirty the place.
Shade of green? The next time you go shopping, buy products that have as little packaging as possible, or that make use of eco-friendly packaging. I was famished after a long train ride and picked up biscuits for AED 2 (less than a dollar, roughly Rs. 30). I made sure I chose the kind with no tray. #NotThatHardToDo
Weetabix replaced plastic packaging with paper. Today's delightful discovery!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nothing wrong with a little segregation

I've said a couple of times that the apartment I live in now is a little too small to allow me to segregate easily, or compost the compostable.
Well, I'm happy to announce  that the decision to segregate came not from me but my sister.
We use a really simple method, seen below

Plastics (clean) on the left, everything else on the right

Shade of green, for today and everyday: Segregate (your garbage, not people) Even the malls here are going to have to start sorting through their waste. About time!

Also, I look forward to the 2nd of November. It's Free Public Transport Day! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I know there's a musical by that name. Or was it Hairspray?
Never mind.
Have you ever noticed how much gunk we put in our hair? (Mr Shue, Sue says true)
"Now hold on a minute, Greengirl," I hear you say "Do you want us to be like you and give only a baby rat's ass about our appearance?"
I reply "Why no, ladies and gentle dudes. What I would like you to do is let your hair dry naturally, without the aid of a hairdryer."
And that's today's shade (it did not take me 23 days to think that up. I've been busy.) It's probably better for your hair. If you don't damage it, you don't need to repair it. Am I right or am I right?
This isn't a panacea for all hair-ills. I rarely use a hairdryer and I still have frizzy hair. But knowing I got that way without wasting electricity makes me feel like preaching :P
Is it a duck? Is it a phone? No, it's a hairdryer

It's getting cooler in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas will soon be upon us. Anyone in the mood to be a bit of a Grinch?

And in other news, did you hear about the cream that might prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS?

Image credit: libertygrace0 via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/35168673@N03/

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new

With GITEX Shopper going on it seems the perfect time to talk about what to do with electronic or e-waste. What's GITEX, you ask? Only the biggest tech exhibition in the Gulf. Well, that's what the press releases and Wiki page say. I haven't visited the actual venue, so I can't comment on the size.
Commerce and trade are good things, the backbone of the global economy. But what happens to the waste generated by an increase in commerce? (And trade.)
Ah. The million dollar (or 10000 AED which I did not win) question.
There are companies that offer exchanges: you drop off an old phone or other device and get a voucher in exchange, or a discount on a new gadget. Jacky's and Carrefour here offer such exchanges.
I know that Nokia promises to plant a tree for every phone that is returned to them- but that could be in India only. Yes, people still use Nokia phones. Forgive us for not being able to afford iPhones. (I'm sticking my tongue out at you for judging me.)
What happens to the old gadgets? The old monitors, Blackberries (or is it BlackBerrys?), external Hard Drives (I'm still amazed by the existence of 1TB HDs) etc?
I don't know. But I do know that there are people who are authorised to collect such stuff. Perhaps you could give it to them and not risk heavy metals and chemicals leaching into the earth. 
And that is today's shade.
Gandhi Jayanti today (the birth anniversary of M.K. Gandhi, also known as the Mahatma). He was the one who said "Be the change". Just be it! (Nike can't sue me, can they?)

Cos that have something to do with E-waste: Enviroserve, UAE (corporate); Bee'ah, UAE; Group TenPlus, Goa, India.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Renewing the faith, keeping the energy

I'm in the middle of a job search, which means I'm at home of an  afternoon. I spend the less active days sending out applications, watching tv, writing, and listening to the radio.
I'd mentioned this earlier: Dubai Eye 103.8 and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce have initiated an Ecopreneur award. People nominated businesses through September and four finalists were chosen from the nominees. From this week on, the finalists get to come on the show to make their case. The audience votes for whomever they think should win
the title and a year's worth of advertising on the channel.
On Tuesday, Mr Prabissh Thomas of PTL Solar Systems answered a few questions about his business on Siobhan Live.
Solar. That brings me to a new #shadeofgreen: Renewable energy. My family uses solar panels to heat water in Goa. Some hotels do too (Good on them!)  I don't need a solar panel in the ME.  Metal pipes conduct heat quite well, and keep water warm. Wait- did I say warm? Try having a bath at 3 in the afternoon and HOT won't describe it. Can you incorporate renewable energy into your life in some way?
Water, Wind, Sun- acceptable. I don't fully support raising crops to produce biodiesel, because I think hungry people would be better served by access to food than my car would by virgin whatever-plant-oil

More news regarding renewable energy in the Middle East: from Green Prophet  
And this is an interesting piece about India from Green Techling. Maybe Modi gets some things right? (I'm too far away for there to be any repercussions for that statement/question! HA HA!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Revelling in the world we live in

I'm not a fast food junkie. I'm more of a junk food fastie (ha ha?)
Having said that, and having tried to inject some humour into this post, I would like to introduce today's shade. But first, a little background so that you see why I mentioned junk/fast food: I chanced upon an advertisement that spoke of our reliance on-nay, our addiction to technology. This ad called for A Day Offline on September 28th. It's an initiative by McDonald's Arabia. I like the message. And yes, I am aware of the irony of the fact that I saw an online ad recommending time offline.
So that is the background. (As the sister of a Comp Sc grad, I should lay this out logically. Train of thought: fast food-> McDonald's-> A Day Offline -> today's shadeofgreen)
Now that I have explained that, flowchart -errr- line and all, I present shade #6: Spend an hour in and with Nature everyday. The Day Offline is a nice idea, but I highly doubt many of us would be able to disconnect entirely for the rest of our lives. One hour a day though- that's manageable. It's proven that time spent in a natural environment is beneficial to your health. Plus you remind yourself what it is that you are trying to save, to safeguard.
a hoopoe I saw near The Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa, on the lawn at Emaar Square
And by switching off and logging out for an hour, we are saving at least a small amount of energy. Hoorah!
For people in South Goa: Shree Damodar College of Commerce & Economics is launching an e-waste collection drive from  today to September 28th, 2012 from 8 am to 12 noon. It's in collaboration with Group Ten Plus.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend wis wover (for some of us)

Translation of the title: The weekend is over.
It was quite an interesting weekend, what with the winter equinox and World Car Free Day (a misleading name if ever there was one. It makes you think you'll get a car free. Tsk.)
Unfortunately, I was not one of the millions on public transport. And, judging by the traffic and trouble getting parking, neither were the majority of people in the city I currently live in.
Ah well- almost every day besides yesterday is a car-free day for me.
        Do you ever feel like owning a car is a waste? I sometimes think it is. But then I don't actually own one, having not made enough money to achieve that consumerist dream.
Some people have no choice but to use cars. I know-gasp, shock, horror! When we first arrived in Goa, the public transport system was rather bad- it's not much better now. Mum had no choice but to buy a car.
Until mass transit gets better, here's what you can do to make sure you use your car efficiently.
You could carry your cycles with you...
Buy/rent a light-coloured car. (I can't help it if this sounds racist!) It will not heat up as much as a dark car, which means you don't need to crank the AC up as high to cool it down. Definitely important in the Middle East.
Check the pressure of your tyres on a regular basis. Too low and you'll be filling the tank way more frequently than you should.
I've saved the most difficult for last: Drive a small car. The less the mass of the vehicle, the better its fuel efficiency. And anyway, size does not matter. In a world obsessed with grandstanding, we forget that cliche that figures in so many jokes. I'd rather ride in a wee Beemer than a humungous Hummer.

For more information, go here (Wiki) or here (howstuffworks)

Over and out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the auspicious day that is today

I can't believe I'm missing Ganesh Chaturthi this year! No modaks (yummy envelopes of rice flour shaped like Hershey's kisses, filled with coconut and jaggery), no fruit, no shankar pali! Nahiiiiiin, cries the Bollywood heroine inside me.
I've read in a number of articles that the festival is an eco-friendly one. Well, I suppose it used to be.  I know it encourages people to be, what with Shravan coming before it. Back in Goa, it was only recently decided to ban Plaster of Paris (PoP) statues. Why? Because clay is so much more environmentally-friendly. For those of you who don't know, the idol of Ganesh is immersed in a pond, river, or the sea at the end of the festival period (anywhere from a day and a half to 21 days). Clay disintegrates in water, but PoP does not. One year, the capital city, Panjim, had pots to drop garlands into so that they wouldn't litter the beach etc and could be disposed of properly. I hope they take the same measures this year too.

At Mocha Mojo, Bandra
A shade inspired by Ganesh: Celebrate in as sustainable a manner as possible. Use old glass jars for beverages, eat off banana leaves (it's a custom that people return to especially at the time of festivals.) Get decorations that are made from recycled bits and bobs: a CD chandelier, perhaps? Eat off bagasse plates- Susty Party has sustainable party supplies. Regular plates are good too, but most of us baulk at the washing up after. I understand. Been there, baulked at that. FYI, Ganesh is considered the remover of obstacles. May he make dish washing post the party easy!
And in the shade of a coconut tree... Here's wishing AnnMarie a Happy Bday! I still have to make you something. Modaks?
The girl who took me to MM

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baby, you can clean my car...

Don't we love it when things are clean? I know my dad does. And he hounds my sister and me to scrub, shine and polish. Needless to say, we are less than enthusiastic about that routine. We are more the leave-my-crap-where-it-is-so-I-can-find-it-later kind.
Dad has always looked after all his stuff. When they made him, he cleaned the mold. Ok, enough with the cleaning jibes. Dad and Mum are environmentalists without meaning to be.  In fact when I read this article from Huff Post, I thought of them.
One thing Dad has complete control over is how clean his car is. He gets it washed twice a week. No, this isn't your automatic, water-guzzling car wash. It's someone with a little soapy water wiping the dirt off the gleaming beauty my sister christened Noor, meaning light. (Note: our other cars have names too. Yes, carS. I'm not proud, but a girl's gotta drive if a girl's gotta drive. For the record, I use public transport more than a private vehicle.)
Here's the next of my #50shadesofgreen: When washing your car, use a bucket, not a hose. That way you see how much water you're using. (Just when you thought this was a paean to my parents...)
A tip I picked up from Two Minutes a Day for a Greener Planet- instead of washing your car every week, wash it every 8 days. That way, instead of washing it 52 times a year, you'll wash it just 45 times. It's a reduction that adds to your bottom line and the planet's.
Also, try and use an eco-friendly car shampoo. Or get your car washed by one of the guys in the parking lot of the mall you frequent. I've seen a lot of them with "ECO-FRIENDLY" painted across their barrows.
People in the UAE, beware: you aren't allowed to wash your car in front of your house in Abu Dhabi, probably because people are wasting water. No, I am not making this up. Read the article in Gulf News.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#50shadesofgreen II

Carry a canvas bag if you can, cos they're strong.
I cannot tell you the number of times I've been told that Dubai is a good place to shop. So many people come here just for a little retail therapy. Those who come here on package tours (hello, fellow members of the middle class) feel compelled to shop because they must take home SOMETHING from dazzling Dubai.
It's kind of like people telling me that Goa is a party place.
How do I say this nicely- THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO BOTH!!!
There. Now that that is out of the way, here's today's shade: Never go shopping without a bag. Canvas, Plastic, Paper- whatever the material, carry a few when you go shopping. And keep a plastic bag with you for spontaneous purchases.
Carrefour sells reusable bags at the checkout counter. Geant charges you for each bag you take, and refunds your money when you return them. Any market worth its salt in Goa has a row of bag vendors.
Step 1 : Make the investment. Or stuff a bag from last week's groceries in your bag, or car. Step 2: Remember to use it.
Don't you feel a shade greener already?
Heard about the Ecopreneur competition sponsored by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Dubai Eye. Here's the clip. More on that as I hear about it.

Friday, September 7, 2012


50 shades of green. (I love clovers!)
It seems to me that everybody is reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I've heard all kinds of reviews, all possible viewpoints. Not feminist enough! An expression of female fantasy! Pointless! Groundbreaking! Disgusting! Beautiful!
FSG started as Twilight fan fiction, and- to me- it always will be Twilight fan fiction, even if the names of the characters have been changed. And that is all I have to say about it.

Coming to the point of this post: have you noticed that in both series there is a mysterious male trying to 'save' a clumsy, diffident female?
Here's my analogy: WE are the (not-mysterious, not-necessarily-male) saviours of a force that has been considered female through most of history- our planet. She's not clumsy, and we aren't really saviours. But as far as analogies go, it'll do.
Do you see what I'm getting at? Let me spell it out. Every contribution counts. Every act makes a difference.Even when you don't believe it.

So here's what I'm going to do- I'm going to list 50 things that I personally have done. 50 things that can help our planet. I don't know if they'll be pointless or groundbreaking or cliches. Whatever they are, they'll make the planet a shade greener, I think.
I'll try to cover as broad a spectrum as possible. However, I haven't gone on a paint-splashing, whale-saving spree yet, so that end of the spectrum might not get covered.

The first thing you can do? Use public transport. I do. And so do millions, billions, of other people around the world. Try it for just two days a week. You'll enjoy the break. And so will Gaia. (Go Planet!)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's VII-ember!

Hello September!
May you be a month of fruitfulness.
I know that in some parts of the world you're bringing welcome change- short holidays back in western India, kids back in school in some parts of the world, and solar-generated power in Tokelau. Where's that? Close to New Zealand, I believe. In fact the Kiwi government has helped fund the program to turn the island nation into the first country in the world to run on solar power.  Hmm- the confusing bit is whether or not to call Tokelau a nation- its people are citizens of New Zealand, or something like that.
Another New Zealander coming out in support of the environment- Sam Neill. Remember him in Jurassic Park? Guess he knows better than most what can happen when you mess with Nature. (Cue feeble laughter as everyone flees from the T. Rex.)
By Qyd (talk · contribs) (Self-photographed) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
One change I'm happy about- it's getting cooler here. Today's high- I checked on BBC- was 36 degrees. That's quite good. It explains why I was able to spend the day without switching the AC on.
Bet that saved a lot of power!
Next time: The first of 50 shades of green

Monday, August 27, 2012

plants 1

This is an upside down HIBISCUS SCHIZOPETALUS.
I promise I'm not making that up.
I have this plant in my garden. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that my mother has this plant.

This is the down-side up flower.

This was meant to be the first in an informative series about the flowering plants one finds in lil ol' Goa, but I'm not there anymore.
The wee flower shouldn't suffer though. It's pretty and should be propagated.
According to Wikipedia, the plant is native to East Africa. My guess is an ex-Afrikander (what we call people who lived in East Africa) brought it home and an ancestor of mine got a clipping.
Invasive species? Who knows. I can't see it doing any harm to any local plants, insects or birds. Maybe, like the cashew, the Goan ecosystem can support it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It's not that easy to recycle here. Sure, there are bins where you can put the stuff you've segregated, or where you can easily drop a tetra-pak, glass bottle, or magazine that you have just finished with. Hurrah.
by Steve Snodgrass via flickr
The difficulty lies in segregation.
In the end, the problems are the same all over the world, aren't they?
Back home I could separate the bio-degradable from the non-compostable with such ease because I lived in a big house. Here I live in a wee flat, with two other people (three when Mum's in this country). The kitchen is so tiny! Where would I put cardboard? Where would I stack plastic or store glass? We try to reuse, really we do. But there's only so much I can be creative with (and only so much I can hide from the cleaners I live with. Hi Dad! Hi Fam!).
But maybe I should try harder. I just finished a carton full of muesli (almost) on my own. Couldn't I have walked to the bin in the sweltering heat to drop it in? This infographic makes me wish I had.
I think there are Cinnabon boxes from when we picked up Red Velvet Cupcakes... Hmm... (On a tangent, I wish I'd seen the red velvet insects this year.)

Monday, August 20, 2012


What  a month! So much happening and never enough time to sleep!
First, the London Olympics. That was the first time I paid that much attention to a multi-sport event. Even when India hosted the Commonwealth Games, I didn't really bother (which was probably just as well, considering what a debacle that turned out to be.)
Image courtesy Craig Deakin via flickr
I am that essential piece to every sporting puzzle, the spectator. I'm a walker, but I don't think the unusual walking style of the athletes in the racewalking event is really my thing.
Part of the goal for the organisers was to have an event that was not quite so destructive. From the London 2012 website "When we bid to host the 2012 Games, we made a radical proposal to the International Organising Committee.  We weren’t only going to put on the biggest sporting event in the world; we were going to hold the world’s first truly sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games, leaving a legacy far beyond the departure of the Olympic Flame." So, how green were the Games? The Telegraph did a piece about that. Not so bad while the Games were still on. I haven't seen any post-Olympics pieces yet though.
Next, Eid. In this part of the world, and across it, Muslims are celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. In India, the only people who really pay attention to the month of Ramadan are our Muslim brethren. But then that's the same for all religions. Lent is for Christians, Shravan (ongoing) for Hindus. In the GCC, it's a little different. Green Prophet came out with a green Iftar guide. I might be a little late this year, but consider it on record for the next. Eid Mubarak!

Friday, July 27, 2012

App-solutely ingenious!

Another post about apps.
The best part about technology is using it to make the world a better place. The Internet is where millennials develop a collective social consciousness, if we want to.
Everyone I grew up with knows the story of Noah and the Ark. But I'll tell it for those who haven't heard it: Many thousands of years ago, God was unhappy with humankind. Nobody was behaving in the manner He expected of them. So God decided to flood the earth and clean it of all the sordidness. There was one man, Noah, whose life pleased God. Noah was given a mission: he had to build an ark, and take his family and two of each kind of beast and bird into that ark while God washed the world. It rained and rained. When it finally stopped and the land dried, God promised never to send another flood. The rainbow is a sign of that promise. (I knew catechism would come in handy someday.) Because they protected so many creatures, I like to think that Noah and his family were conservationists.
Project Noah isn't related to the Biblical character. Noah here is an acronym, according to the site. It stands for Networked Organisms And Habitats.
The site, and app, help citizens of the world aid scientists in the collection of data. You take pictures, upload them and identify the species. I think that is such an interesting idea.
And with the Western Ghats having recently been given the title of World Heritage Site, I think it is doubly important that we record as much as we can. None of Goa's wildlife parks are in this year. Sigh.
Thank goodness Project Noah is available online- they don't have a Blackberry app, so no smart phone business for me. Never mind- I can't wait to get started!
For more apps-for-nature, read this BBC article.

Trash is OUT

We've all seen the dumps. Where I'm from, there's litter everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. I've spent so much time getting mad, but some people in Slovakia chose to go one better. They've created an app, TrashOut, that you can use to mark illegal dump locations on Google maps.
Do the authorities come and clean up after you take this step? Maybe not just yet. But under the FAQ's it says that TrashOut will "approach them and let them know". Or you can take action yourself and make a day of cleaning up the place with your friends.
The app is downloadable on iOS and Android.
I love this idea, I really do. I checked the map of Goa recently and no one has marked anything yet. Shocking!
Read more, learn more, and mark the dirt, PLEASE! I'm delegating to the cyber-Goan-verse. Here's a video to watch too. It tells us stuff we know, but in a format we can pass on (and not be accused of being preachy)

Ramadan Kareem.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This is a bike I could ride

It's actually a tricycle...

Well, if it weren't so hot here, this would've been a decent method of travelling.
I've noticed that the number of motorbikes in the city has increased tremendously from, oh, 16 years ago. Maybe the couriers and delivery guys could take a leaf (or a bike) from Portland's B-Line guys' book.Or sweat it out with the trikes?
Now how does one go about getting a bike here? I know a few Metro stations where I would be able to park it.
But where would I park a Segway? Good question...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Energy Conservation

Sighted today at Khalid bin al Walid station: escalators switched off and the following sign placed at the foot and top of them
Turned off for Energy Conservation
(not in quotes because I did not take it down word for word. And since I was in a bit of a hurry, I didn't get a picture either.)

It wasn't peak hours, so nobody was forced to huff and puff up a flight of stairs.
Yay for energy conservation!

(also posted on http://metroscrapbook.blogspot.com/)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sidewalk smiles

Thank God Cassy hasn't trademarked her blog name yet. (I promise I'm not infringing on your rights anyway :D)

Here's something I saw on the sidewalk that made me smile

In case you can't make out what it says, the blue one is for recyclable stuff like metals and plastics; the yellow is for non-recyclables like food, peels, leaves.
These bins are all over Business Bay (Executive Towers). I've seen them in JLT too.
I hope people are using them. The most common excuse I've heard to not use bins is how far away they are. I don't think that'd fly here.  They're everywhere!

Other things I've seen on the sidewalk: mynah eggshell (pastel blue), the leg of a doll, dates...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm back!

Alright, so I didn't actually go anywhere- I've just been busy for the last two weeks.
What have I been doing? Well, I attended two Meetups, was as good an intern as I knew how to be, and took two driving licence-related tests.
In other words- I've been doing a LOT of learning.
Twitter has become a friend (don't cry for me, Google; I haven't left you) and has introduced me to new friends like The Huffington Post, TIME Magazine, and UNEP.
It probably isn't very eco-friendly of me to charge my phone everyday, but I must if I want to stay connected.
You know the best part about learning? Sharing what you've learned (that's the teacher in me I suppose). So here's a wee bit...

I read (a little late) TIME's list of the 50 great inventions of 2011.
On that list were such marvels as
# the $ 4 mn hummingbird
# cloth made out of milk
# the artificial leaf- like the real thing, it turns solar energy into power, but in the form of a chemical fuel
# a cross between the incandescent bulb and its fluorescent cousin
# solar roller - solar panels that can be made part of the building

As you can see, the hashtag # has become a way of life. (I hear the sniggering.)

The awesomeness of the Internet, I tell you!

Hello to everyone from Dubai Sustainability Advocates!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sustained in Dubai

(Yes, I do realize how ridiculous I sound.)
But this is the kind of thing that makes you sit up and take notice (I was standing, but you know what I mean).
Dubai has a store that sells eco-friendly products! It's called The Change Initiative and was founded by a man named Gundeep Singh (must be Indian origin). Guess who else is on the board of directors? Robert Kennedy Jr. That's right, nephew of JFK.
The 'facility' is located in Al Barsha. 4,000 sq. metres!
I must find this place and check it out!
And when I do, I WILL write about it!
(I suppose you can tell by all the exclamation marks in here how very excited I am!)
For more information, click here

Monday, June 4, 2012

World Environment Day 2012

It's World Environment Day tomorrow!
What are you doing? I have at least one non-green activity lined up for the morning- driving class. This country has Left Hand Drive, which means I'm on the wrong side of the road. Ok, it's the correct side over here. But where I come from, it isn't!
I had to answer a theory test, before which there were classes. One topic is Eco-friendly driving habits. It's even a chapter in one of the books the RTA gives you upon registration. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. No, really.

What else? Oh, if you are in Goa, see if you can attend the Friday Balcao on the 8th of June from 4pm. to 6pm. at Goa Desc Resource Centre, Liberty Apartments, Feira Alta, Mapusa.
This time's topic: Need to promote a Green Economy for Goa.

My suggestions for tomorrow? Use public transport, especially if you have been affected by the recent petrol price hike. Plant a tree. Or grow nachne- I love cookies with nachne in them. Enjoy the smell of damp earth. Take an extra long whiff for me. Go for a walk.

Cherish the world.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Is this why Mark Ruffalo chose to be a big green creature in The Avengers?
I've always thought he was easy on the eyes, in a non-'I'm sexy and I know it' way, but finding out that he is also an advocate for green stuff- YAY!
So - this might be old news, but with the success of his latest film, I think it's alright to dredge it up.
Hulk, Save. (Don't judge me. I feel he merits what follows.) \m/

4th June
Since this post was a little vague, check out this link


to learn a little about fracking (not the expletive).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Living Planet Report

This is not FRESH news, but it is still worth noting: the UAE has the third worst carbon footprint per person in the world*!
That's terrible- I always thought it was bad, but that bad?
To move from a populous nation to one that is not nearly so populous (though population density might be higher in parts) and find that one has gone literally from the frying pan into the fire- BIG LONG SIGH.
I know this is a desert, but there's got to be something green about the place! From today, it is my mission to celebrate the green. And to put it out there, in the hope that, in some attraction-of-the-Universe/the-Secret way, it creates more ecofriendly moments to savor and remember. And, of course, post about.

* according to the Living Planet Report. I read about it in The National.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Of fruit, cricket and coffee

There's so much going on back home!
The Konkan Fruit Fest is just over. If you missed it this year, make sure you catch it next year. Whether you are a farmer, an amateur gardener, or a foodie (by food I mean fruit), there is always a lot to learn, see, and buy at the KFF.
EVERYBODY (and their dog) is watching the IPL matches. Fun fact that a friend relayed as part of her commentary on our WhatsApp group: the Royal Challengers Bangalore have green initiatives, and wear green once a year. And they're about to be declared carbon neutral.

Over here...
I went to a Starbucks for the first time ever. Yes, big MNC. With complicated orders and coffee cup holders. But look!
A picture's worth a thousand words; however, just in case you can't read the words in the picture: 'Made from 100% recycled fibres using a bleach-free process.'
How cool is that! And the cup holder is made with 60% post-consumer fiber (which I first read about in an Archie comic).
So, while I am not about to spend my as-yet-unmade  millions at Starbucks, it's nice to know that the green lady on their stuff is really, truly GREEN (a little anyway)

New blog :D

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Looking for a reason - well, more of a sign, really- to start another blog, I was online yesterday doing some recon.
I don't think I got my green signal. I shall have to look harder. However, I did find something interesting. Serendipity?
Here's the story:
I love receiving and sending mail. Snail mail. Penny post (visions of Sheldon dance in my head) or, more appropriately, paise post. I've always wanted a pen pal. The mystery of mail from a distant land, the eager anticipation, the hope that your mail doesn't get lost on the way- to me, it's the stuff happiness can be made of.
Yesterday I stumbled upon a link that said, rather vaguely, Postcrossing. Curiosity piqued, engines on. Of course I checked it out! It's such a fun idea- you send postcards to people you don't know, in countries you might not even be able to locate on a map. You receive postcards from people who were given your address by the system.
An interesting idea but why does it feature here? My friend, they have a going green section! That's why!
Perhaps I'll get the chance to try this out someday. Toot toot!

Monday, May 7, 2012

dry day


New beginnings.
I moved to another country last week. It's not a new country to me- I used to live here nearly two decades ago. Needless to say the place is completely different from what it was back then. And I have to get used to it all over again.
I have to be a better, neater, more polished version of myself here. Unironed clothes and messy hair just won't cut it.
I wonder what toll this will take on the environment. Malls, marts, McD's- I see how much more waste is generated here than back home. I suppose that will just be another challenge I grapple with while I am here: making sure I continue to do what I can, and continue to encourage others to too.
How dry it is here!
Know what's awesome though? There are mayflowers here! Gulmohur trees flowering profusely in the heat of an early Middle Eastern summer

Wish me luck in the ME!

Monday, April 30, 2012

saving sequins


I have just had my first encounter with a job search portal.
Definitely not accustomed to thinking along those lines. Guess that's something I shall have to learn, and soon!
How does one present oneself properly using another person's format?
28042012463.jpgNo idea if this will work for me, but if it doesn't, I might have found another job: Rescuing sequins!
Alright, fine, it's more an avocation than a vocation.
I take the sequins off the scraps of cloth that can't be used for much  (except as stuffing), and look for ways to reuse the little bling.
30042012478.jpgHere's one possibility- jazz up plain white envelopes. Create your own gifting possibilities. Better yet- pay me to do it for you. (Nyeh heh heh!)

In other news: I gave Sputnik II away. Lopsy and Flotsam too will find a new home today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Darn it!

a mild swear word?
nope, just something i like getting done.
too often our clothes get ripped and we set them aside, planning to repair them someday. but someday never comes. so we throw the garments out, or cut them up for rags or bags.
i can offer you a better way.
for years now, off and on, i've been going to a 'darning centre' in panjim.
a title that seems grand, right (like executive assistant)? well, it's two men, whose fingers are nimble (and I've yet to see a thimble - sorry, that rhyme just begged to be released), sitting outside Lakaki (opposite Tato's, near Panjim church).
denim. silk. cotton. lycra. these are the things i've seen them working on.
over the last couple of months, i've gotten jeans (two pairs), cargoes, t-shirts, cotton pants and a bag repaired.
i think they do a pretty darn good job (pun intended). and they aren't too pricey. Grand total for all that stuff? something like 300.
where is the darn(ed) thing? the horizontal line  close to the base of my small steps bag

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Tis Jambul season. And kantam season. And Chunnam season.
Bought the jambuls in the picture on the streets of Panjim. 100/- for 80 berries. Quite nice.
Support local fruits and fruit pickers and vendors. The greater the demand for something, the more the people who make money off it are likely to fight for it (in this case, the trees)

Bird update: a coucal ate the eggs. It dropped one down- mum found some pieces.
Oh well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012



What are these?
Some ingredients for a crustless quiche. (basic recipe from The Frugal Gourmet, by Jeff Smith)
Why should they figure on a blog that is supposed to be about the environment?
Elementary, my dear Watson (am I misquoting?)

The ingredients in the picture are local and as close to organic as possible- almost there, but not quite. The brinjal was bought in Mapusa from a vendor from one of the surrounding villages. The local spinach was grown in our garden. And the eggs are free range, laid by two hens I love. And look after. (Yes, they’re mine).
The flour came from a nearby supermarket, Gipsy Mart, where they have their own mini-mill (or so my mother informs me). Flour without preservatives. Pure Atta. The pepper came from a friend’s creeper, ground by my mum.
The cheese, corn, salt, baking powder, butter- these were all packaged FMCGs.
BUT- I’m making an effort.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

red whiskered bulbuls

Remember I said I love observing the creatures around me? (In Robin and I)
Well, now I actually have a chance to observe, at close hand, a pair of red whiskered bulbuls nesting.

How do creatures without opposable thumbs form something so well? The nest's on an evergreen tree that you wouldn't think could take the weight of a bird as large as a bulbul, but so far it's doing well.
We weren't sure the bulbuls would choose to stay- we thought they might abandon the nest halfway because of the activity near it. (hardly my fault they chose to build near the front door)
We do our best not to disturb the parent that is in the nest. It (male? female? no distinguishing marks) doesn't sit on them throughout the day. I guess it gets hungry. And maybe it doesn't want to poach the eggs.


This was taken rather hurriedly, in a moment when the parent birds were on a break. Don't they look like candy-coated chocolate eggs?

I'm so excited! I hope I get to see the chicks! The countdown's begun- 10 days more...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Little blue book

I wrote and printed a book for my littlest cousin.
Before you criticize the waste of paper, or electricity, read about the evolution of the book:
My cousin tells me he ordered a book (from Flipkart) about how to save the world. (Hmm. Just realized this is a fact I did not check.)
You might not understand this, but the possibility of his caring gladdened my heart.
I decide to write him a letter about the little things he can do, as first steps towards saving the world. Based on past experiences with things I’d written for his elder brothers, I know my handwriting is not the easiest to read. Therefore, type. Mum offers to assist. (Thanks, Mum)
And then I think- how cool would it be to have a book with your name in it?
(I mean, I know how excited I get when I see my name on screen, or in print. I’m not usually the person being referred to, but I still get a kick out of it. Wouldn’t a 10-year old?)
Therefore, book.

It’s a slim volume, printed on waste paper. I used my sister’s old colors to jazz it up a little. So, yes- I used resources to create the book, but I also tried to compensate.
Big green possibility: Once I give it to him, it could help make him a wee eco-hero.10042012421.jpg

Let’s face it- the only thing that doesn’t generate any negative environmental impact is not doing anything, including breathing. I’m not ready to kill myself for the planet yet. And while I’m here, I’m going to do what I can. 
I’m going to write.
I’m going to walk.
I’m going to take the bus/ train.
I’m going to stitch little bags.
I’m going to make it my business to know about the world I live in. And protect it. And photograph it. Today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

birding in Goa - 2

Last time I introduced you to Lloyd Fernandes, who runs Birds & Breakfast. Here's a little more information...

Lloyd's busiest period is from November to March, because that is when the two-legged visitors arrive- birds and people! Goa plays host to several migratory bird species and people, usually foreigners, come to see them. They arrive with long lists and tick off what they’ve seen, making notes about where they’ve seen which kind, how many times, etc. They have lists for each region, each country, and even each county, monitoring species and numbers. Lloyd believes that Goa too should have some sort of ‘bird audit’- this will help keep track of the birds of Goa and encourage people to watch them.

Every business needs publicity in order to grow. So far, Lloyd has relied purely on word of mouth. He recently started blogging to make himself and his work accessible to more people. Birds & Breakfast is also accessible on Facebook.

So, should you feel like waking up early one morning to gaze in awe at the birds, Lloyd’s the person to go to. He’ll even feed you!

Friday, April 6, 2012

birding in Goa- part 1

Most people in the bustling village of Calangute have tourism-related businesses. Lloyd Fernandes is no exception. The owner of several vehicles, he will ferry you to and from a place. He will drive you around Goa so you can see her natural and historical wonders. Besides these rather mundane activities, he will (if you are so inclined) take you bird watching.

Lloyd owns and runs Birds & Breakfast, which are exactly what he delivers. Each group that comes to him gets a custom-made experience, based on the kinds of birds they want to see and the places they want to visit. You walk through forests, stand beside lakes- just watch the birds, with Lloyd softly pointing out something you don't want to miss, like a golden oriole or Indian Pita (not the bread). And after that, a simple but delicious breakfast of tea or coffee, bread, boiled eggs, homemade mango jam, honey, and fruit.

Lloyd has been doing this for fourteen years now. He’s had a number of interesting bird experiences in that time: he’s held the chick of a red-wattled lapwing, seen a drongo eat a sunbird, and, in his own backyard, watched a pair of tailorbirds raise their young. The first group came to him in 1997. They gave him his first pair of binoculars and a book by DrSalim Ali. There’s been no looking back. Learning from and alongside the avid bird watchers who have hired him, Lloyd has seen over 400 of the birds that can be found in Goa. He can even recognize more than half of them by the sounds they make.

Next time- how you can get in touch with him!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


18032012345.jpgGod grant you trees
to live among
If not in reality
then in imagination,
trees of such variety and beauty
that you can’t help
loving yourself
among the trees.
from Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher by Nissim Ezekiel

I don't know if this post was inspired by the blog of one of my seniors in college.
Or the fact that I am trying to put together a series on trees for my blog.
Whatever it is, I regard finding this quote in a book I borrowed from Goa's Central Library yesterday as serendipity of the odd-link sort.

God grant us all trees!
(Is it also a coincidence that the syllable 'tree' is part of 'poetry'? I think not!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

robin and i

I love James Herriot and Gerald Durrell. They make the natural world come alive and sparkle with humor.
While I am nothing like them (in the first place, I’m a girl. And I’m not British), I love observing, and if possible assisting, creatures around me.
The Magpie Robin has figured prominently in my life- my sister and I tried to rear a chick once; we watched a pair come to eat big black ants under our evergreen tree; we saw their wee speckled eggs in a hole in a guava tree brought down by a storm; I’ve listened to robins imitating the song of the Tickell’s blue flycatcher.
And now I have watched a magpie robin dart at a gecko and fly off with its tail. That was the most vicious thing I’ve ever seen that little bird do!
And they say Robin’s just Batman’s gay partner! Pfft!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Sputnik II has a friend!
I thought I’d get to work on my ‘orders’ (so far two people have asked for/implied that they want turtles).
Sputnik is a starfish gone bad. Flotsam is a turtle without a carapace.
Satin scraps are fun to work with. I would’ve used sequins I’ve taken off other stuff, but I couldn’t find my collection! And THIS is why cleaning your room is not a good idea!
flotsam and entrails

la petite (and my dirty paint-stained pants)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

earth hour

it's earth hour this saturday!
learn a little about it here
switching your lights and appliances off for an hour is not a HUGE gesture. but, as I frequently say here, the little things count.
If you live in Goa,or know somebody who does, there will be an Earth Hour program at Lourdes Convent, Saligao
before you switch off- here are a couple of links you might want to check out

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So there's some sad news:
Goa's environment minister passed away early this morning.
For more information go here
There are discrepancies in the reports by different papers (age, time of death), but the cause and end are the same- heart attack, expired. RIP.
In happier news, I came across a group of social entrepreneurs while on Facebook earlier today:
And while looking for their homepage (which I couldn't find this time, but I shall endeavor to!), I also found UnLtd India. Like the idea.

Monday, March 19, 2012

watermelon anyone?

local watermelons from the village of Parra. the season is short, so eat some quick!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

meet the turtle

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Last night on my way home from work, I saw a turtle/ terrapin/ tortoise trying to cross the road. Unfortunately I couldn't stop to help it, but other people were doing their best to avoid it, so I live in the hope that it got across safely.
Did it influence today's post? Read on....
I decided to make something for my little cousin. A pretty starfish with silver sequins.
That's what Sputnik II started out as. Then I realised he looked nothing like a starfish. He did however look like a shell-less turtle. I provided him with protective covering et voila! Behold- my first ever satin soft toy! He looks a little like a Muppet :)
Needless to say, I'm keeping him, and will make my cousin something else to go with the little pink bag I have stitched for her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

snake in the hall

The last time I posted I wrote about spotting one wild thing close to my home.
That incident was followed soon after by the appearance of another wild thing, this time IN my home.
It seems the mama mongoose does not lack prey. I wish she'd spared the kittens.
Mum went into the hall to bring our hens in (they perch on the windowsill). She says she heard something fall, and there, wriggling on the floor in front of her, trying desperately to get into a corner, was a DEOD (that's Konkani for rat snake)
We had to chase it a bit, but mum eventually managed to get it into a bag and release it back into the garden. We do not advocate killing snakes. We've had cobras and Russell's vipers around the place but as far as possible we've asked someone to catch them and release them elsewhere.

What was I doing while mum did the hard work?
I was in charge of keeping an eye on it, and telling mum to be careful :D

Watch it slither here and here

Sunday, March 11, 2012

wild thang!

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with saving the earth. It does however contain a small seed of hope.

A wee grey cat recently littered in one of the storage areas around my house. She had three kittens in her kindle (so it isn’t just something you read books on!); adorable squirming fluff balls!

Now comes the sad part: a mongoose found them and ate them. Starting with their heads. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Mother Grey, when she returned, was distraught- obviously.

So where’s the hope- I didn’t think there were mongooses (yes, that's the plural. i checked.) left in my part of Goa. And it looked like this one was pregnant. HOPE!

In memory of the little ones.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

totally charged!

People all over Goa are celebrating, or mourning, because of the election results.
Woo hoo?
Meanwhile... life goes on.
Here's to people who are intent on making a change without having ulterior motives.
For instance, the good people at GOACAN, whom I've known nearly half my life.
An example of something they do: collect batteries.
I see your brow furrow. What do I mean, they collect batteries?
Well, what do you do with yours? Throw them in the bin once they no longer generate power, right? But then what? Those batteries probably go into what passes for landfills here, leaking poisonous and corrosive elements into the soil. Or they're burned *the horror!*
Through their battery collection drive, which has been going on for at least four years now, Roland and Lorna and those who work with them are trying to
1. prevent that
2. eventually return batteries to the producers who should be able to dispose of the hazardous stuff safely.
How do you get involved?
Get in touch with me and I'll tell you. :D

Saturday, March 3, 2012

pot pourri

I need to up the ante! Two ladies I admire and adore have said that they will read this blog. So I must make it worthy!

How do I do that? Perhaps it is time for some direction, some structure. Hmm. The thing I like best about my blog is that it isn’t rigid. But a little more focus (instead of the nebulous recordings of thoughts) would be good.

Here’s a DIY I learned from one of the above-mentioned ladies:

1. Eat an orange.

2. Keep the peel.

3. Dry the peel.

4. Break it into little bits.

5. Place in a bowl.

Et voila! Your own orange peel pot pourri!

It smells absolutely lovely, and is a much better scent in a closed room than Musty.

It could make a nice gift if you put in a pretty box or in some fancy sheer cloth.

BONUS: You consume part of your daily requirement of fruit every time you make a new batch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

being retrogressive?

The hardest thing about loving your planet is being accused of being against progress. Don’t I want other people to make money? To lift themselves to a comfortable middle-class life? Don’t I want the area I live in to be well-lit, and safe? Doesn’t everyone deserve to benefit from all the opportunities that tourism can bring?

I’m going on the record: I’m not against progress. I want people to make money. I want to know that I live in a safe neighborhood.

But I also want to hear birds chirping, to see fireflies glowing, to watch flowers blooming and fruits ripening. These pastoral joys are simple and not ‘progressive’. So sue me.

Is it going backwards when you don’t accept a plastic bag with every purchase you make? Or when you take the bus instead of a private vehicle because of (1) insufficient parking and (2) fuel that’s costly in more ways than one? (Progress would be accepting the ‘modern’ plastic bag, or using your own vehicle, correct?)

I am not one of those who think that you ought to follow all the traditions or none. I’ve always been fond of the Middle Way. Consciously choose what's right for you. Balance is difficult; it’s perfected over time. But it is precariously possible. If you want it.

There’s no point in being reactionary, and saying ‘Down with change!’ merely because it is change. There’s also no point in saying ‘Ooh! Shiny new stuff!’ and running after it especially if it will find its way into your system and kill you. We can’t go back to the Middle Ages because the world has changed a whole lot since then. But we can shape the future using what we have learned since that time.

A cleaner world can mean a vibrant economy. It definitely means more responsible citizens of the planet. It means a better you and me.

This is the season for repentance, yes, but action too. Here's to that!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


so what did I do on the Great Day of Love?
I visited a Waste Management Exhibition at the International Centre, Dona Paula. Roland and Lorna from GOACAN were there, and Clinton Vaz, and students and a teacher from Carmel HSS, and (they'd left by the time I got there) a group of Swedish students.
What was the contribution of each group/person (in my subjective opinion)?
Roland and Lorna put up banners and boards related to waste, including a number on mercury and mercury poisoning. And they continue with the Battery Collection Drive. For more info on that, ask me. Or maybe I'll post about it.
Clinton updated us on the current trash scene in the state. Pictures, videos, facts- enough to set your mind buzzing!
(on a tangent- the above-mentioned people know so much, I am in awe.)
The team from Carmel's had a simple composting arrangement on display, a system of three plastic buckets that you add waste and a solution of spices and EM to (sounds like a recipe for something!)
The Swedish students, whom I missed, are (if I understood correctly) studying our waste management system. They also made a short film on their system back home. just a little time and effort, and you can make an international difference! thumbs up! what else- oh yes- some of them had made jewellery out of the keys from keyboards, tetra paks, the little plastic rings from tuborg cans or bottles (not a fan of beer so I don't know)
People do love the earth, thank God!
Didn't take pictures at the exhibition, but got one sappily beautiful pic of the sunset. For those of you who need visuals :D

About Me

Greetings, citizens of the world! We are united by planet and species, so what say we do our best to look after our handfuls of earth?